Whether you knowingly or unknowingly committed bribery, understanding the penalties you can face is essential, as the punishment can be harsh. The following blog explores what you must know about this offense and how a Houston white collar crime defense attorney to help you navigate these challenging times.
What Constitutes Bribery?
In Texas, bribery is intentionally offering or soliciting money to influence the decision, opinion, or vote of a public official or someone who holds authority. It does not matter whether or not they were elected or appointed to the role. Similarly, those who accept or agree to an offer of funds are also guilty of this offense. Any time a public servant receives any benefit, it is considered bribery.
Examples of bribery include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A judge asking for payment to rule in the defendant’s favor
- A group of people offering funds for a legislator to vote a certain way in an upcoming vote
- A school board member agreeing to partner with a school lunch company in exchange for a portion of the funds
There are different types of bribery that one can be charged with. This includes coercion, witness tampering, and improper influence. Also, it’s essential to understand that in Texas if the bribe was paid when the official is no longer in public office, you can still be charged with bribery.
What Are the Penalties for This Offense?
If accused of bribery in Texas, it is vital to understand what penalties you can face. Bribery is a second-degree felony, meaning you can face anywhere between two and twenty years in prison. Similarly, you can expect a maximum fine of $10,000. This is regardless of whether you are the party soliciting the deal or accepting the funds.
Are There Any Possible Defenses?
Though it may not seem like there are any options to navigate these charges, there are some defenses that may apply to your situation. For example, the gift you were exchanging was not a bribe or an attempt to influence a public servant. Similarly, it may be as simple as you were wrongfully accused of accepting a bribe when it never happened.
It is imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You should not try to navigate these charges on your own, as you’ll need quality legal representation to improve your chances of proving your innocence.
When you need help, the Gonzalez Law Group is here to help. Our dedicated legal team will examine the different facets of your case to help provide advice on the best course of action for your circumstances. Contact us today to connect with a member of our legal team to discuss the details of your case.